New Zealand

22 of My Favorite Kiwi Slang Terms

August 13, 2015

It wasn’t long after landing in Nelson, New Zealand that I noticed a difference in the language, especially the slang. I found myself giggling every few minutes, either because I liked the accent or because they said something that sounded silly. My roommates got a good laugh out of the things I said too, so it was entertainment for all parties involved.

I’m not sure what my problem is but it’s difficult for me to understand the New Zealand accent sometimes. I spent a lot of time asking “what??” (which I learned sounds kind of rude, so I am trying to integrate “excuse me?” or “pardon?” into my language). I also have this problem where it’s difficult for me to hear lower voices (and mumbling)……which is so interesting because I’m living with three boys…….

I was so confused when one morning the boys were referring to their friend as “Bin.” I actually asked if his name was Bin. Of course that was followed by laughter, ridicule and slow pronunciations until I understood that his name was Ben.

Here are 22 of my favorite and most heard Kiwi terms:


a lot or a bunch

“I’ve got heaps of hangers,” or “Thanks heaps”

Not ideal

universal meaning but it’s used quite often here

“The traffic in town today was not ideal.”

Piss, Pissed, Pissing

on the piss/getting pissed – drinking, getting drunk

“Are you gettin’ on the piss this weekend?” or “You were so pissed last night!” 

taking the piss – joking, make fun, ridicule

“Ah chill out, I was just takin the piss.”

pissing down – heavy rain

(my brain often confuses this one with being angry or peeing)


want or willing

“Would you be keen to go to lunch tomorrow?”

Sweet as

awesome or cool; originally came from the phrase “sweet as pie;” often followed by “bro”

“Sweet as, bro!”

Lost the plot

lost your shit or lose your mind (usually laughing)

“I absolutely lost the plot when I watched that video!”


the best or awesome

“Nelson is a choice place to live in the summer.”


usually used at the end of sentences or questions; sounds the same as Canadians say “eh” but in the not annoying way

“He’s got a mean car, ay?”


this is not something that can necessarily be explained but the definition I found online says it’s someone who lacks knowledge about culture, fashion, and the modern world

picture a greasy person with a really crappy car that tries to race and wears monster energy t-shirts; kind of a cross between hick and skater

“Some bogan tried to hit on me last night.”


dinner or evening meal

“Come over for tea next Thursday night.”

(I was very confused by this one, I thought I needed to eat beforehand because we were going to have tea right over suppertime)

Wheelie Bin

garbage can or trash can

“Today is rubbish day so you have to take the wheelie bin down to the end of the drive.” – actual sentence my roommate said to me (I died.)

Chilly Bin

cooler or insulated container

“Can you grab me a beer from the chilly bin?”


flip flops or thongs

“Summer is coming so I need to go pick up some new jandals.”


holiday home or beach house; pronounced “batch”

“We should go away to the bach this weekend!”


short-shorts for men; very common in New Zealand (including my roommates)

“I bought three new pairs of stubbies for next weekend.”


to have sex

“We used to root in my car during college.”


short for tantrum

“He throws a tanty when he doesn’t get what he wants.”


sweatshirt or hoodie

“Can you throw my jersey in the wash?”


next round of drinks

“Ay, you got the next shout?”


Short for “nightmare”

“Working for that company was a bit of a mare.”


hiking (not slutting around)

“You wanna go tramping this weekend?”

Good On Ya

good job or well done

“Good on ya, mate!”


I’ve tried to use most of these in a sentence but it sounds painfully awkward. Maybe I’ll try again next month.

Have you spent time in New Zealand? What are your favorite Kiwi terms? I would love to hear from you – leave your comment below!

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  • Reply Kate Tulibaski August 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    The “piss” one was my favorite/most strange to get used to while I was there.
    “Zed” for “Z” was new to me
    “Brekkie” for breakfast – Loved that one.

    There are so many more, but you should learn them on your own – makes the experience even better. HAVE FUN!

    • Reply Haley August 17, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      Ah yes both of those are great ones! Hope you are well!

  • Reply My First Month Abroad – Nelson Updates | Haley Unscripted August 15, 2015 at 1:40 am

    […] The most difficult thing for me at work has been adjusting my language and spelling to New Zealand standards. In words like realize or conceptualize, they spell it as realise or conceptualise. Center is spelled centre and color is spelled colour. Even in normal conversation there is a ton of kiwi slang that I’ve had to learn to understand what is happening in the conversation. I created a list of some of my favorite and most used kiwi slang terms here.  […]

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